The Silver Lining: In Difficulty Lies Grace And Opportunity
November 14, 2011
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein
It has often been said that just before our greatest successes in life, we will face our biggest failures. It has also been said that our most significant breakthroughs will commonly be preceded by major breakdowns and that when one door closes, another opens. There is an endless list of elegant quotes and sayings that capture the simple idea that when life gets tough, there may be more to it than initially meets the eye but that doesn’t change our reality when times of struggle hit. Unless you’ve experienced it for yourself, the most beautifully articulated words will be of no use to you.
That’s what happened to me and now I know what Albert Einstein and all the others were talking about. When I was in third-year university I picked up a guitar for the first time along with a few friends to learn some of our favourite songs and play music around the campfire. In a short time, it became obvious to me that I wasn’t getting the hang of it as quickly as my friends and before long, I discovered the cause…I was losing my hearing.
Here I was a young man in my social prime, without a care in the world and out of nowhere, this disaster strikes. I soon found out that the hearing loss was due to a hereditary condition that in my case, set in early and rapidly. In a matter of a few months, my hearing significantly and steadily declined making it more and more challenging for me to hear my professors in class, to hear people clearly and easily, and to hear the music. I was initially told that the surgery to correct the condition involved a 10% chance of complete loss of hearing in the ear operated on and that my best option was to wear a hearing aid until my hearing worsened further, which was inevitable. This was without a doubt, the single most difficult experience and time of my entire life. I was lost, I felt completely alone and I was terrified. I began to think about what life would be like without sound, I became very alienated in social situations and I had all but given up on the hope of ever playing music.
So what happened next?
A miracle. Yup, that’s the only way I can describe it. I did some more searching and through a family friend, I found a doctor who did a lot of the surgeries. He was cool, confident and he encouraged me to go ahead with the procedure.
Fast forward one year: I’d just had surgery on my second ear. The first procedure happened a few months prior and as the healing process unfolded, my hearing began climbing back up to normal. I can still perfectly remember leaving the surgeon’s office after my post-op appointment and getting into my car. I sat there for a moment and thanked God for everything that had happened. Bursting at the seams with anticipation, I finally reached for the radio and sat in awe, tears rolling down my cheeks as the music made its way to my eardrums, my heart and my soul for the first time since the beginning of this difficult ordeal. I was beyond elated, full of gratitude and humbled by the experience.
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